Prospective sensemaking, frames and planned change interventions: A comparison of change trajectories in two hospital units

Stefan Konlechner, Markus Latzke, Wolfgang Güttel, Elisabeth Höfferer

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Changing organizations is difficult. In this article, we analyze how sensemaking that follows the initiation of change projects relies on the interplay of prospective and retrospective aspects, and we elucidate how organization members’ frames develop over time based on this interplay. Our data, 38 in-depth interviews with nursing and medical staff held at four different points in time, reveal how expectations impact the dynamics of meaning construction in change processes. Our findings demonstrate that the frames through which actors make sense of change initiatives develop continuously, although the expectations embedded in them are ‘sticky’ to some extent. The degree of ‘stickiness’ depends on expectations that are formed through initial prospective sensemaking, as these expectations influence actors’ tolerance regarding dissonant cues. Change initiatives fail when this tolerance becomes exhausted. Our study contributes to theory on sensemaking and change by elaborating on the undertheorized role of prospective sensemaking during change processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506009 Organisation theory
  • 502026 Human resource management

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